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Crazyville, population: 1

I have a question for the comm - what do you do to handle crazy? Not the "patron has a knife and is threatening to kill someone" kind of crazy, but the "patron has been reading too many conspiracy theories and has created their personal Unified Theory of Insanity" kind of crazy?

For example: I had a patron call my little small-town library looking for maps of the tunnels that supposedly connect my little town in Georgia with a much larger town in Ohio, with a stop at Crazy Phone Lady's childhood home in Pennsylvania. This connection was obvious to her because the towns have the same name, and her childhood home was on a street that was Trans[town name] Road. She was convinced that the term Underground Railroad was a literal railroad that was underground running through these tunnels that supposedly are under the entire US. She also claimed that her uncle who lived in a shack behind her childhood home was actually Nikola Tesla, despite the fact that Tesla had been dead for a decade or more before she was born.

Along the way, she rambled on about how the Philadelphia Experiment movie was a way to discredit the truth that the USS Eldritch really did disappear, travel through dimensions, and then reappeared, Edison was a thief (true enough) and on and on and on... I finally had to lie that there was a patron at my desk needing help to get her to shut up long enough to disconnect.

How do you deal with someone like that, who is way the hell out of her mind and rambling on and on? What do you do when the crazy patron in question shows up physically in the library instead of calling, and thereby being easy to either gently disengage by claiming another patron or just hanging up? I'm not worried about CPL showing up, she was calling from across the country, but I'm curious if any of you have some suggestions for when the crazy walks into the library.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2018 04:05 am (UTC)
Hmm... If they're just the ramble-too-much kind of crazy, rather than seeming dangerous at all, I would recommend letting them talk for a moment, then politely pointing out the nonfiction section for a random topic they've mentioned and/or looking at your watch/clock and excusing yourself because it's time to perform a regular routine action you just came up with.
Jan. 22nd, 2018 12:24 am (UTC)
That was pretty much what I did about the nonfiction - i interrupted her to ask her what she was actually asking me to look up and she said she wanted routes from here in south Georgia to Ohio. I googled and discovered from our area, most runaways would head for Savannah and hop a ship there to somewhere likephiladelphia or New York, rather than trying to catch a train. Then after she started rambling again about being sure there were no tunnels (which any kid with a shovel and a desire to dig for buried treasures around here could tell her) she started rambling again and pretended there was a patron. Inventing a task in back would probably work for in-person crazy.
Jan. 20th, 2018 10:08 pm (UTC)
working in a law library we seem to get this pretty often. If they're not so crazy that we're calling security, I often do okay with just saying repeatedly "what information are you looking for" --interrupting if necessary (and it often is)

Faking another duty is also a good one
Jan. 22nd, 2018 12:25 am (UTC)
Good suggestions. I kind of used the phone version of both those tricks to get rid of mine.
Jan. 21st, 2018 10:43 am (UTC)
They probably have a spiel running through their head, and you have to let them get that out or they're going to keep trying to get back to it. Otherwise, I suppose try to focus on the specific resources they need, and whether you can get them. But you can't "cure" them, and they're not going to take a hint, so I don't know.
Jan. 22nd, 2018 12:29 am (UTC)
Yeah, they were definitely looking for someone to vomit their pet conspiracy theories on. But she had me on the phone probably half an hour, and I dont know how long she tied up the coworker who refered her to me. Its harder to get rid of someone in person than on the phone. For one thing, they would have been able to see there was no one within 10 feet of my desk! Lol
Jan. 22nd, 2018 01:25 am (UTC)
I encounter these sorts of folks at craft sales. You kind of have to nod and uh-huh and distract or let them peter out. It is harder when you're on the phone. I would whoopsie drop it and hope they don't call back. They might not even realize that no one is listening anymore!

I liked the title of your post btw! More than one time I have made an LJ post to myself called "Weirdsville, Population Me" :-)
Jan. 22nd, 2018 04:39 pm (UTC)
Craft sales and art shows seem to attract people with... shall we say, non-standard belief systems? There's something about creativity (and craft/art fairs in general) that draws them out.

Glad you liked the title, lol. I've been known to come up with some interesting titles for the ones I don't post publicly myself. (I'm also much more likely to use everyone's favorite four-letter words and assorted other vocabulary that I try to avoid using around my mother...)
Jan. 29th, 2018 07:53 pm (UTC)
I guess I'm lucky, because we can have crazies banned b/c this is a private institution.

Of course, if the crazy is a student/faculty member/staff person, I'm SOL. I try to keep the conversation to a minimum, don't make eye contact and have a poker face. That usually gives them the message that I'm not interested.
Jan. 29th, 2018 10:09 pm (UTC)
Theoretically, we can ban someone - but they have to be either a) presenting a danger or nuisance of some sort, or b) using obscenities or hate speech. Rambling on and on isn't enough of a reason to ban someone from a public library, even if the logic behind the ramblings is about as sound as the Golden Gate Bridge made from spaghetti noodles and lime jello.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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